The National Theatre recently announced they they will continue their run of streaming previous live performances on YouTube which I’m incredibly happy about! This week’s production was Twelfth Night, which I have neither studied or seen a production of unless you count She’s the Man – the Amanda Bynes film adapted from the play (but I’m thinking that doesn’t count), so I was really excited to discover a new tale.
It took me a little while to get a grip of exactly who everyone was, but after a couple of scenes I relaxed into it and found myself really enjoying both the comedy and the wonderfully adaptable set. Unlike other modernised Shakespeare productions the plays true focus was not the new setting but the story itself, making the contemporary costumes and sets refreshing additions rather than crass rehashings.
The set elegantly unfolds itself to reveal four different locations each of which are dressed to transform them into many more from an outdoor swimming pool to a drag bar. A richly talented cast weaves in and out of the multiple sets with great humour, delighting the audience with acts of foolery and wit. I don’t know why, but even while knowing the play was a comedy I did not expect to laugh as much as I did. I truly enjoyed the outrageous outburst of Olivia and Malvolia (played by Phoebe Fox and Tamsin Greig respectively), but also the slightly more subtle humour of Orsino (Oliver Chris) continuing to confuse Viola (Tamara Lawrence) and Sebastian (Daniel Ezra).
Each character had their own distinct story line, which felt fully fleshed out. I feel like I really understood each character’s purpose in the play and gleaned morals from each of their arcs. All of which contributed to a well rounded finish neatly tying up all of the loose ends.
Favourite Character: Sir Andrew Aguecheek played by Daniel Rigby
Favourite Scene: Malvolia and the Fountain – fully of witty puns and plenty of silliness
Conclusion: This play is sure to lighten up your day, whether you’re a Shakespeare fan or not. I’ve always been sceptical of watching Shakespeare plays that I have not read for fear of getting lost, but I thoroughly enjoyed the playfulness of this production. I really appreciated the respect the play was given, by the production team not feeling the need to add some new modern twist that distracts from the charming nature of the play. So if this taster has intrigued you make sure you click the link below before Thursday evening to make sure you don’t miss out!
- Thursday 30 April: Frankenstein by Nick Dear – Starring Benedict Cumberbatch & Jonny Lee Miller
- Thursday 7 May: Antony & Cleopatra by William Shakespeare – Starring Sophie Okonedo & Ralph Fiennes